Posts Tagged ‘Sociopath’

“So I made up the whole crucifixion thing…sorry…but still, when you piss off this many weird cat ladies, it’s only a matter of time before they radicalize and come after you…”

For about a week now, I’ve been traveling with an automatic rifle in the front seat of my truck. At dawn and dusk, I find myself cruising the back roads of my neighborhood, searching, stalking, hunting. The beast doesn’t know I’m gunning for him…or maybe he does…maybe that’s why it’s so hard to find him. Or maybe I’m just no good at hunting tomcats.

imageI ought to be, that’s for sure. In the southern Appalachian mountains, far from stop lights, street lights, neon lights, any light beyond God’s great blanket of stars, shooting tomcats is somewhat of a tradition and it stretches back several generations, at least. My dad tells stories of growing up in the 1950s, riding around in the backs of pick up trucks, blasting stray tomcats to pieces with shotguns and .22 rifles. Pops is in his mid sixties now, a little worse for the wear, but still drilling stray male cats like it’s his fucking job.

It’s because it is and, in a way, always has been. In his youth, those heavily armed boys in trucks collected bounties for the cats they killed. Back in those days, see, bird hunting was the hot shit activity in these parts and the uniqueness of a man’s bird gun coupled with the prowess and intelligence of his dogs was a big part of how dudes back then measured off against one another. Of course, you had to have birds to shoot, so collectives of hunters went to great expense to propagate the existence of game birds, particularly quail and grouse, in the region. The thing about game birds is that they are ground nesters, the easiest pickens of all for a lazy assed tomcat, and stray cats were wreaking havoc on the baby birds. Hence the bounty on feral tomcats.

These days, Pops doesn’t bird hunt. We both have really awesome bird guns and the bird dog who lives with me is so damned smart we assign him chores, but no one shoots birds anymore. We do, however, still shoot feral tomcats. Pops just got one last week, as a matter of fact. He claims he nails a couple per month, and I don’t doubt it, but I don’t think these cats are as feral as they used to be, though their impact and behavior aren’t really affected by whether or not they have permanent homes. Free roaming male cats are nuisances…they always have been…and they always will be.

My folks have three barns and a little over a dozen horses. Having horses means hay and feed, which is to say my parents maintain a small army of female cats who help keep them from being overrun by rodents. They, and anyone who employs cats will tell you, to hire females because they stay close to home and hunt much more than the males do. At any given time, they employ between eight and twelve cats for this purpose, and employed is exactly what they are. Their cats have names, health plans, room and board. In exchange, they kill the fuck out of some rats. Part of their health plan, oddly enough, includes the armed protection of a retired Army Ranger when stray tomcats wander in and attack them.

Yes, that’s a real thing. And it’s fucking brutal.

A loose tomcat, feral or not, may range and, in fact, claim several square miles as its territory. Tomcat behaviors, on these prowls, more often than not include vicious attacks toward smaller cats. Throughout the spring, we’ve been waking in the night to the sounds of cat fighting outside. The first few times, it was easy enough to release the hounds into the night, to break up the cat fight and then return. Everyone goes back to sleep. Three months later, the dogs are staying in and I’m going out, at three a.m., in boxers and boots and eight rapid fire rounds of turkey shot, scanning a Surefire light for the trespassing brute but finding nothing.

Our cat, Bunny, a five pound calico female found in the street as a kitten, has enough bald spots and scratches and bites that she doesn’t really even want to be outside at night anymore. Instead of killing mice and rats and moles in her own yard, Bunny is spending her nights sleeping on her spot on the bookshelf, where it’s safe. And I don’t blame her. The fact is, I don’t really like being in the yard either. Besides brutalizing smaller cats, tomcats tend to engage in territorial marking, called spraying.

imageAlso a very real thing. And it’s really fucking nasty.

Ever wonder why your front porch suddenly smells like concentrated cat piss one morning? It could be a stray tomcat, homeless and hungry, but it could just as easily be someone’s “pet,” who has chosen a spot ON your home or IN your vehicle to point his furry little cat cock at and mist with urine, hot and sticky, and specifically for your personal enjoyment.

Think it’s not personal? I used to, till I got to know my ex’s cat. Patch was a big grey tomcat with a white spot and he fucking hated me. When he wasn’t out prowling, he was peeing on my stuff. He ruined MY couch by peeing on the headrest in MY spot…he ruined MY leather armchair…and he hit my laundry basked, repeatedly. Only my stuff. So one morning, after discovering a basket of clean and pissed laundry, I’d had enough. Patch got snatched, pitched and pinned in the bathtub. Then he got a dose of his own medicine. I don’t care what you say. That malicious bastard was hurtin’ for a squirtin’ and deserved every damned drop of it. Fair’s just fair and I’ll stoop to a cat’s level if I have to.

Which brings us back to my mountains in the present day, with my bleeding and battered little calico cat, my front porch reeking of piss, as does the inside of a vehicle after I forgot to put a window up one night…back to the rifle in the front seat of the same vehicle…back to the hunt at hand. A feral cat is my likely target, and I hope this is the case, because discovering that it is someone’s pet wouldn’t make much difference to me, other than the fact I’d be angry at one of my neighbors for being such an irresponsible pet owner as to allow their animal to become a nuisance. Make no mistake, this animal’s days are numbered.

I doubt, however, that I’ll post a picture on Facebook. Or maybe I will. It really depends. If it’s a headshot with an arrow like the one Kristen Lindsey posted, I totally will. What an awesome shot…Kristen, my hat’s off to you…to take with a bow and not document and subsequently share. Hunters kill things with sharp sticks all the time and the pictures get published in magazines, so what’s the difference? Killing game, such as a harmless little bunny rabbit, with an arrow is considered a feat of marksmanship and talent in the hunting community, but for Kristen, killing a loose tomcat by the same means is proving to be a costly error.

imageIf you haven’t read about it, last month (April 2015), Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey shot a tomcat in the head with her bow and arrow and then bragged about it on Facebook. It went viral, of course, and a backlash of social pressure cost Lindsay her job and prompted an official investigation. Thus far, the D.A. isn’t moving forward. Facebook is enraged and circulating petitions not only for her criminal prosecution, but for the revocation of her license to practice veterinary medicine. Seems a bit much, to me, especially over a creature whose behavior could easily be considered antisocial to begin with.

Sorry cat owners, but that tomcat who is so sweet and cuddly at home is very likely causing problems when you let him roam, even if you’ve had him neutered. Which really sort of means that YOU are actually the problem and that is this particular tomcat, later identified as Tiger, the pet of an “elderly couple,” was not so much the problem as were his owners. Maybe Kristen should have shot them in the head with arrows…or maybe not…but either way, they were long gone. As in moved. As in moved and left the cat. As in abandoned. According to their former pet sitter, “Amy,” who has created a page telling Tiger’s story and ultimately soliciting donations, Tiger’s owners made some sort of arrangement with a neighbor to care for Tiger so he could continue doing what was most important to him, roaming the countryside and sleeping all day in a “barn.” One day, Tiger disappeared. That is, he didn’t show up to eat food and sleep before leaving again.

I’m not kidding. Read it here.

After a week or so, Tiger’s disappearance was solved when he appeared on social media, speared on an arrow like a shish-kabob by a college educated chick with a compound bow and a hell of an eye. A lot of people are really mad about it. The Bryson, TX news station KBTX, who has been most closely covering the story, actually had to disable the comments on their online news articles due to “repeated death threats being made against the veterinarian.” Small protests of weird cat ladies have gathered outside the Austin County courthouse demanding “Justice for Tiger” and the identically named Facebook fan page has garnered in excess of 50,000 followers, all squealing and wallowing in self righteous anger, seeking to destroy a human life they actually seem to place less value on than a damned pissing old tomcat.image

I don’t give a shit if he did have a name. More power to him. Now his name is mud. How you like them apples, weird cat ladies?

Apparently, you don’t like ’em at all, because like the KBTX news website, Tiger’s Facebook fan page has to specifically ask users not to contribute death threats to the comment threads. That’s right, even more death threats made by even more people who are even more concerned by the rights of a tomcat to prowl freely than a working, tax paying, American citizen’s right to due process and more importantly, her right to protect private property from untagged and unleashed “domestic” animals known for engaging in destructive and antisocial behavior. Remember now, Tiger wasn’t killed in his own yard and I have a solid understanding of how wandering male cats treat the property of others. image

These crazy old bags of shit are even invoking the great and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation in their hopes that someone else is something close to being just as sinfully stupid and silly as they are. Since the FBI is apparently maintaining statistics regarding animal cruelty, it only seems logical that they’ll be dispatching the Behavioral Analysis Unit from Quantico any moment…that Hotch and Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid from TV’s Criminal Minds will be Leer jetting down to Texas to solve the great mystery of the impaled tomcat before framing the events with a relevant quotation like:

“A man has to work so hard so that something of his personality stays alive,” said Albert Einstein. “A tomcat has it so easy, he has only to spray and his presence is there for years on rainy days.”

Something tells me that the FBI doesn’t really give and shit and isn’t coming, but I certainly hope that all of Kristen Lindsey’s haters are holding their breath for it. After all, every time an ignorant piss-faced fart knocker chooses not to breathe, someone much more deserving of oxygen gets a chance to. And I like that idea. I also seem to like the idea of having a forum where I can rail against people like this…maybe a little too much…so before I go too far, I’ll just bring up one more teeny tiny eensie weensie little thing…

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“Dead Cat Protest…or…The Society of Heifers in Sweats?”

Of the 50,000+ people who support the persecution, prosecution and/or execution of Kristen Lindsey for “cruelly” killing a tomcat, how many of these same people choose to purchase poultry and meat from corporate American factory-farmed sources? From the looks of the asses and bellies of the protesters, I’d say a good portion of the McDonald’s customer base is represented here. Some of these folks are people who couldn’t give a shit less about the treatment of the chicken or cow that ultimately provides sustenance for their worthless little life and don’t hesitate to contribute a few bucks here and a few bucks there to a system which has actually institutionalized real-life animal cruelty.

Maybe ganging up on lone archers like Kristen Lindsey makes them feel less like the mush-filled douche bags that they are. Or maybe they actually think they’re doing a good thing.

It doesn’t really matter, in the end, unless you’re the human being whose life is being ruined by a bunch of stupid assed cat ladies. If you’re a roaming tomcat anywhere in rural America however, you should know that someone, somewhere, likely has your number and your days of terrorizing sweet little calicoes and squirting piss wherever you see fit will result in exactly the sort of “Justice” that old Tiger received.

Weird old cat ladies who befriend and “claim” wandering tomcats would also do well to remember this.

When I was a boy, my father taught me a lot of things that I’ve come to find useful. He taught me to steal without getting caught. He taught me to lie and cheat and conspire. He taught me how to assault other people in public and get away with it. Coincidentally, he taught me that Yankee people are a vile, distrustful bunch, devoid entirely of morals. Go figure.

Now if you aren’t sure what a Yankee is, or are wondering if you are one and if I’m about to viciously insult you, I’ll explain. “Yankee” is a slang term southern Americans use when referring to northerners. It is a derogatory, dehumanizing term closely akin to the word “nigger” but generally is considered socially acceptable and is more commonly used. Ethnically it is applied to groups with European heritage who have assimilated entirely into the white culture. Sorry minorities, but white southerners have separate epithets for you…Yankee appears to be a white thing.

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“The Yankee states are the blue ones.”

It’s also a perspective thing, which means it depends upon who you ask. Yankees, to most folks, are people from the northeast. Northeast of what, you ask. Why, northeast of the person you are asking comes the answer. To a true southerner, anyone from two or three towns to the north is a Yankee. If you’re from New England or anywhere close to New York or Chicago, you are also a Yankee. Anyone west of Iowa is generally not a Yankee but if you live in south Florida and aren’t Cuban, then you probably are one. Virginia is considered somewhat Yankee-ish, but somehow West Virginia and Kentucky aren’t really. Does that make any sense? At all?

So, back to insulting Yankees, it wasn’t long before I started to see that northern, or Yankee, people behaved a little differently than what I was used to in the small southern Appalachian (pronounced Apple-atch-in) town where I grew up and presently reside. My early dealings with transplants from Ohio and New Jersey supported my father’s statement, but after my first couple of years in the military, I began to see things a little differently. The lack of morality he described was actually, as near as I could tell at least, simply a different interpretation of the term. They had intact moral systems, but they were nothing like what I was used to.

It’s a cultural difference that can only be described anecdotally. On a recent road trip, while the wife was inside a small post office, I was flipping through the rental car’s satellite radio and happened upon the Vivid Video porn radio station. Yep, porn is on the radio and I’d tuned into a call-in talk show. The topic was “cream pies.” Now if you don’t know, I’ll tell you. If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph because this shit is nasty. The contextual meaning of “cream pie” on this show involved a man licking a strange man’s baby batter out of his own wife’s hoo ha. Yuck city.

All of the six callers I heard before my wife returned were either from Massachusetts or Ohio, with most being from the latter. Does that mean people from Ohio are disgusting and devoid of morals? Maybe. Ohio also has the highest rate of human sex trafficking in the country. It’s the place where your child is most likely to be abducted a block from home and wind up being pimped out in a truck stop two weeks later. All I’m suggesting here is that the sexual culture in that region of the country may be a little different than what most folks consider normal and when it turns bad, it also happens a little differently.

When I related my story at work, it was met with disgust and contempt, only later to be generalized into a series of epithetic jokes with each being more crass and foul than the last. In a fundamentalist Christian culture, such sexually deviant behavior is considered morally repugnant on every level and for a number of reasons, despite the fact the act itself is a consensual one, between adults and occurring behind closed doors. When a guy from Ohio hoovers up a puddle of some other dude’s man-mayonnaise, he calls a nationally syndicated radio show and frankly discusses it. But if a guy from the N.C. hills ever even had the inkling that he might enjoy such a thing, he’d be on his knees begging Jesus to forgive and redeem his sinful, broken black heart. One guy feels guilty, one doesn’t. Same mouthful of sour milk bubble gum. What gives?

Back in the forties, the U.S. instituted the draft and started shuffling soldiers off to fight the Nazis. The Nazis, as we all know, we’re bulldozing their way across Europe and North Africa looting, pillaging and trucking Jews away to labor and extermination camps. The American soldiers were appalled by what they saw. The big question here is: why weren’t the German soldiers appalled as well? After all, they were tasked with doing the work and saw it much closer than anyone else. Why did the Germans not experience overwhelming guilt and simply stop the butchering? It almost seems as though the Nazis had produced some sort of psychopathic super soldiers, incapable of feeling or remorse or love, like the Terminator but with less-cool catchphrases like “Seig Heil. ” That seems unlikely, considering that psychopathy is thought to be on the rise and presently only figures at an estimated 4% of the population. Note: feel free to replace “Nazis” with any other genocidal social group, including Colonial and/or slaveholding Americans…

It’s more likely that the Nazi propaganda machine created a culture and moral structure conducive to what it intended to accomplish and left the grunt work not to clinical psychopaths, but dedicated citizens and soldiers who believed what they were doing was best for their social group, or at least doing what they could to fit in. It’s hard to feel guilt or remorse when you don’t believe you have done anything wrong to begin with. This statement is key to the understanding of how morality functions both socially and neurologically.

Conventional morality means nothing to me. I do not experience the sensation of guilt. Or remorse. I understand, concisely, the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, but I possess no innate inclination to prefer one over the other, especially when it comes to the way I relate to others, nor am I pathologically predisposed toward one over the other. In a clinically sociopathic brain, morality deals with what is best for the self. For me, right and wrong only really applies to what is either beneficial or non beneficial for me.

Most sociopaths, the ones who will speak openly, report their lack of engagement with traditional morality as an evolutionary advantage. Non-socios see it as a harmful social disorder. Fundamental religion happens to frame it as a separation from God. When I was young, attending private Baptist school, I was taught that my conscience was akin to the Holy Spirit, and that it lived in all of us. The Spirit would pack it’s bags and hit the bricks, however, if we should ask it to do so. The Spirit never “convicted” me with feelings of guilt when I was naughty, no matter how naughty, and I began to wonder if I’d asked it to leave without even realizing.

Maybe I had, but I must have been tiny when it happened. Long time readers of my blog will remember an early post (click to read this post) which depicted a four-year old Jason pitching a kitten into a red hot wood stove. While I’ve never repeated that sort of behavior in any way, I’ve never felt any sort of guilt or emotional torment as a result. The Holy Spirit has never had anything to say to me about it, although my grandma sure as hell did. What I remember clearly are the two sequential ass bustings, separated by a period of time out in the corner. That and the smell of burnt cat. That sort of thing sticks with you.

Lacking a conscience and the capacity to feel guilt, in and of itself, doesn’t make a person a monster. The smoking cat may claim otherwise, but remember that the cat is in fact smoking, which severely biases the cat’s scientific opinion. The supposed lack of conscience, in any context, serves only as a behavioral enabler and to understand it’s true implications, the very concept of morality must be reframed. Right and wrong, it seems, are not necessarily what we think and are a hell of a lot more static than we’ve ever imagined.

Most religions teach that God, besides being the Creator, is also the “law giver,” as in the decider of what is moral and what is not. In other words, the idea of conventional morality, to a believer, is a universal constant defined by a higher power. The problem with this is that the idea of right vs. wrong varies between individual cultures and according to time period. Four hundred years ago, the moral way to deal with “witches” was to crush them with large stones. While this behavior was acceptable in 17th century Christianity, it is no longer considered justifiable. In a few centuries, the dividing line between right and wrong shifted drastically. These American centuries also saw the enslavement of the black man and the genocide of the native people, all justified in the minds of the offenders by the popularized form of morality present at the time. Sometimes, religion itself was used to explicitly justify such savage offenses. In the film Django Unchained, Tarantino depicts a slaver quoting Genesis 9:2, common piece of scripture used to normalize slavery as he uses a bullwhip against another human being for breaking eggs.image

Morality, the idea of right vs. wrong, is a concept that evolves within the culture in which it presents, and nothing more. It exists as a behavioral framework that provides a consistent standard wherein people may coexist peacefully with one another. It’s the reason our societies have come so far and is absolutely necessary for the survival of our species. Morality, at its root, serves as a tool for the perpetuation of the species and therefore, must evolve with the times in order to remain effective and beneficial to the larger group.

If I experienced guilt, it would not be a feeling that I had sinned against an instituted universal order. This paradigm is no more measurable than it is tangible when considering that standard moral programming is not a feature humans are born with. What I should have experienced after I burned the cat is a form of anxiety. Things like roasting live cats are considered deviant in terms of common behaviors exhibited by the majority in a culture. Committing such acts, for most people, results in a fear of being ostracized by their social group. Morality, rather than referring to the intangible and static concepts of right and wrong, actually reflects the societal standard of normal behavior. The feeling of guilt is not related to the Holy Spirit, but is in fact a sensation of emotional displeasure experienced after behaving in such a way as to risk the security of one’s social identity and status. It’s an important tool which exists to link humans together and help them relate peacefully and harmoniously with one another.

For me, it’s not that easy. There is no little voice in my head providing an evolutionary cue as to how I should behave with regards to others. In this aspect, the anti-sociopath crowd has a point; I, and others like me, seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to naturally fitting in with the rest of society. We are presented, as such, with a choice. A person with an antisocial personality can choose to either ignore social convention and live at will or cognitively engage the system, mimicking the moralities imposed on others, and fit in the best way possible. Or, at a bare minimum, not be burned at the stake by a bunch of pissed off villagers. While fitting in takes considerable work and finesse, it is in the ability to make this conscious choice that the sociopath derives his own evolutionary advantage.

Unconstrained by any sort of neurological directive to conform, I am free to define my own personal code of morality as I see fit. On the one hand, were I a malevolent sort of a creature, a pathologically offending victim of intense childhood trauma, then you could see how lacking this behaviorally inhibiting brain function might cause a lot of problems. But on the other, that isn’t the case at all and not only am I completely free to choose my own right from wrong, I am able to do so objectively.

For example…

I’ve done my level best to convince a close friend of mine that eating commercially processed chicken, especially from fast food joints, is socially irresponsible and perpetuates cruelty. Chickens are not protected by cruelty laws, they are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, raised in tiny boxes, cooked and sold by people not being paid enough to live, the whole spiel (read more about this here). His answer:

“The Bible says nothing you eat can defile you, only what comes out of you can defile you. And I like me some chicken.”

You don’t really see the cost of being locked into an institutionalized system of morality until you observe said behavior being framed by such a ludicrous and contextually inappropriate justification. The pathological need to be a part of a certain social structure usually serves to inhibit harmful antisocial behavior, but in this case, the behavior’s lack of significance within the moral framework only serves to perpetuate it. The social culture of Evangelical Christianity, amongst others, not only fails to identify the social issue as a problem, it draws on the Genesis 1:28 claim of man’s dominion over the Earth as justification to say nothing.

In other words, if my friend and I eat factory farmed chicken for lunch, we should both, by all rights, feel guilty for doing so. But neither of us do. He doesn’t because it’s not a part of the social-moral paradigm to which he subscribes. The Christian belief system simply doesn’t choose to prosecute the perpetuation of cruel acts against defenseless creatures as a sin…so there is no reason for him to feel guilty. I don’t feel guilty either. Not that I would have actually eaten the chicken, but it wouldn’t matter to me if I did, not from an emotional standpoint anyway. I’m free, remember, to define my own terms of morality and in this case, humanity sits in the sociopath’s corner, as does the evolutionary advantage. Think I’m full of it? Change the example of two guys eating chicken to two German soldiers in World War II arguing about how ok it was to go along with the popular Nazi definition of morality in those days.

Whether it involves torturing chickens for profit or the mass murder of millions, the implications of how a person defines what is right and what is wrong can be a very serious business, even more so if a man decides to trust another man to do his moral reasoning for him. Religious institutions, for example, provide much of our moral framework. Despite their tax-free, non-profit status, these organizations still function as bureaucracies and by their very nature, create self perpetuating ideologies which may or may not be beneficial to the overall social group. This is why the Catholic Church has been behind so much mischief, historically speaking. An institution, like a clinical sociopath, is incapable of experiencing attacks of behaviorally inhibiting conscience.

Objective morality is the middle ground between a lack thereof and that which is externally imposed, both of which result in selfishly motivated and anti social patterns of behavior. No matter who you are, building an internal moral framework which is objective and based truly upon “Do Unto Others” principles takes hard work and a discerning eye for the greater social consequences of your behavior. All of it.

Something which seems so trivial as purchasing a chicken biscuit from Chik-Fil-A should by all means be deemed socially irresponsible…immoral. A four dollar decision enables the abuse of animals for the pure selfish sake of profit margins as well as the practice of dramatically under compensating employees. It’s only four dollars, but it’s still four dollars. I can see this objectively because, ironically, I don’t have morals. Or a conscience. Or a guilt complex. The same lack of neurologically forced social engagement that let John Gacy sleep soundly atop the corpses rotting in his crawl space enables me to point a bony finger in the face of popular convention and proclaim, in the words of ultra-galactic asshole James MacDonald,

“For shame!”

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Ain’t the world a funny place?

A small sprinkling of snow entered my car as I rolled down the window.

“What’s wrong officer?”

“You seem lost,” he answered after a few seconds, knowing damn well that didn’t constitute probable cause to execute a traffic stop. “Can I see your license and registration?”

Getting lost on Beech Mountain is not at all uncommon. Once off the main road, it becomes a maze…a spiderweb…of identical dirt roads, miles of them weaving through the trees and bending around the mountainsides. The roads focus around a half-assed ski resort, reminiscent of Hot Tub Time Machine, and a golf club.

“I’m not,” I answered, gathering my documents. “I’m headed to check out the electrical system on a house my friend might buy and he gave me bad directions. I was headed back up to the top of the mountain to try and call.”

Cell service is spotty and unavailable for most of the 3000 houses that line the windy narrow passages, only 10% of which are occupied year round, and it’s patrolled by an eight man staff of externally sourced police, some from the same region as most of the property owners, south Florida.

“Do you have anything in the car that you shouldn’t,” he asked next, “drugs, weapons, anything like that?”

This is rural North Carolina. Appalachia. Resort town. Rednecks with shotguns and OxyContin crazed hillbillies are as common as tourists in Landcruisers…

“Nope,” I answered, “just electrical tools and trash.”

…just as common as guys who do electrical work and favors for their friends on snowy Tuesday afternoons.

“Do you mind if I have a look inside?”

Whooooooaaaa…the locally sourced police didn’t usually act this way.

“I do mind,” I answered. “I haven’t done anything and I have things to do.”

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Arrest photo of the actual cop…er…ex cop…

“If you don’t consent Mr. Brennar,” he said, “I’ll have to call the county K-9 unit. You might be here awhile.”

I chose my words carefully, considering factors such as his ethnic and regional heritage, the number of witnesses, his ultimate willingness to push the issue and most of all, the fact that I, for once, was innocent and simply being harassed. He was about to discover that I was, indeed, his huckleberry.

“You go ahead and do that,” I said, stone-faced, “and when I’m done suing you for illegal search, you’ll be back to pruning palm trees in South Beach. I’m a decorated veteran and if you want to violate my rights, you’re going to have to make that call.”

“Wait right here sir,” he responded, his voice quivering in anger.

He stomped back through the snow to his cruiser like the spoiled little shit that he was, angrier than a child denied dessert before the due process of dinner.

The officer ran my information, in vain, before returning and sending me on my way. Nothing more was said of the search, nor of my rude and racially insensitive remarks. I bid him a good afternoon before abandoning my friend’s house prospect and heading home.

imageThat shit wouldn’t have worked out in my favor if I’d have pulled it on the same guy in Metro Dade. In Miami, if I’d have implied he was a Tin Starred Landscaper, he’d have called an army of assholes just like him and they’d have dragged me from my car to the curb. After being Tased and maced, I’d be pseudo raped by a dogpile of angry blue men, each getting their licks in, one indistinguishable from the next, even with multiple angled helicopter footage. I might even be killed. And that’s considered preferential white guy treatment.

If I’d have been black or Hispanic, they’d have just killed me, maybe without even pulling me over, as their dash cams recorded them screaming at me to drop the knife. A box cutter would later be found in my tool bag, locked in the trunk. But, as it was, I drove home feeling pleased with myself for such a tiny victory against the heavy handed oppression that seems so prevalent in the big city police departments. For once, I’d succeeded in emasculating a tiny piece of the authoritarian culture, and it warmed my cold Grinchly heart.

The point of the story is not to pat myself on the back for racially insulting a pushy cop (I’ve done plenty of patting already, trust me), but that the encounter went just as it should have, anywhere in the country, regardless of the racial element. The officer, after blatantly ignoring his constitutional obligation to establish probable cause before pulling me, attempted to intimidate me into submitting to a further violation of my rights. His behavior, and its potential for affecting me in an emasculating way was returned in kind, tit for tat, certainly not rewarded. I, on the other hand, experienced a psychological reward, a wonderful mix of chemical endorphins, and it probably makes me more likely to act the same way again.

So it’s probably good that I live in a little town like South Park where I can get away with bullying a bitch-assed city-mouse cop…as opposed to somewhere like New York City…where a guy might find himself being cop-raped with a toilet plunger. To death. Talk about emasculation…

…and speaking of rape…

imageI suspect the psychological implications of being dominated and brutalized by those in authority might be very much akin to those of being ass ravaged by a mob of big soapy meat daggers in a cold, dark prison shower. In each situation, feelings of powerlessness and dehumanization are easily inflicted through detention/immobilization and reinforced, often enough, through pain. While one might not be able to relate to the actual experiences of being detained and beaten any more than being cornholed inside out by a pack of Aryan brothers, it’s more understandable, in these graphic terms, the sort of feelings that might result.

And that really only applies to the survivors of police bullying and brutality. Last night, I spent the better part of two hours watching YouTube videos of unarmed civilians being shot and killed by American policemen. I spent this time wide eyed, intently watching as though I’d bet money on the outcomes, watching sometimes handcuffed people bleeding to death in the streets, with no clip being repeated save one, that of five heavily armed New Mexico cops firing on a homeless goofball who was camping in the desert. After gassing and shooting him multiple times with assault rifles, they fired beanbags into his motionless body and argued about who was going to secure his four inch knife and get the cuffs on him. He died shortly thereafter and not a cop lost a job. Incidentally, the victim just happened to be white.

It’s not just the black men who are gunned down and beaten, although they certainly constitute the majority, but it’s people of all races and backgrounds who make up the larger cultural subgroup of the disaffected. They’re often poor, mentally unstable, unemployed or homeless, sometimes drunks or addicts, but the common thread is a lack of an ability and the financial means to stand up against overreaching authority. For every dead Sunday school teacher with fifteen bullet holes in her car and an angry community demanding accountability, there are a dozen, or more, socially disadvantaged minorities with holes in their bodies where holes don’t belong. We never hear about those people because they often have no one to speak for them and even if, it turns out that most people simply do not care.

It must be a sobering thought, likely one nestled in the forefront of the consciousness of America’s disaffected city dwellers and for minority groups in general. Sobering, that is, to realize on some level that the value of one’s very right to exist rests upon the whims of a police subculture which not only assesses them at a lower value than those who have the means to defend themselves, but actually targets them because of this weakness.

And it seems to only get worse.

image

GITMO in Chi-town?

A Guardian article claimed recently that the Chicago P.D. have been operating a “black site” for a number of years, sort of a way station between apprehension and booking where off camera interviews have been allegedly conducted and these interviews were described as being both coercive and abusive in nature. The police denied it, of course, but I also remember a fair amount of denial when it came to accountability regarding the goings on at Abu Gharib and GITMO. It’s only natural, after all, when you’re asked about systematically violating people’s human rights, to deny everything.

In the end, denial only carries you so far. Sooner than later, reality pulls up with a past due bill and a collector who looks like Jason Voorhees with a head full of PCP. If you’re lucky, at least. When the CIA was beating and torturing people, essentially raping away the masculinity and self respect of people like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the other leaders of ISIS, we’d all like to think they “misunderestimated” the outcome of those interrogation sessions, but who knows…it’s not like it’s the first time humiliation and brutality sparked the flame of violence and hatred in a man’s heart.

imageWhat we can all safely assume, is that if you spend your time turning fellow prison inmates into your own personal sex dolls, one day, eventually, you’re going to get stabbed in the neck with a fucking toothbrush. That’s just how it is and it’s just as true when it comes to other forms of physical and emotional emasculation. The more a man is subjected to such abuses, the further he has to go to find balance again, to feel strong and to stop feeling raped.

Back when I was a squirrely little third grader, I thrashed a classmate, mercilessly, in the bathroom after recess one day. They sent me home for fighting, of course, but allowed me to return after hearing the truth from my mom. Not one to tattle, I’d neglected to mention to the principal that right before I beat him stupid, the other kid had been intentionally pissing on me. Nor was I one to relish an ass beating from my pops, so I’d told my mom the truth. And then she smelled it on my jeans and my red Chuck Taylors. It was exonerating for me; the other kid stayed suspended. That was ’86…or maybe ’87.

Times has done gone and changed on us.

By the time I graduated high school in the mid nineties, corporal punishment and a student’s assumed right to defend himself from bullies were a thing of the past. My response, as appropriate and effective as it had been, was to be tolerated no more. In the new century, I’d likely have faced criminal charges for seizing that mealy mouthed bastard by the throat and playing “Ring Them Bells” on his skull.

Today, children are allowed only a little leeway when it comes to preventing bodily harm, just as adults are, but as a general rule, we’re expected to tattle, to file reports, ultimately to defer our own protection to others. That’s all well and good…it’s just fine to tell the teacher after it happens…but it doesn’t do anything to stop some degenerate pre teen from whipping out his weasel and watering you like a houseplant in the first place.

Between the schoolyard and the streets of adulthood, things don’t change much. Bullies continue to rob, rape and urinate on decent folk, and the expectation remains to defer protection to others, in particular, the police. Again, that’s all well and good, but what happens when the policemen are the ones with their anteaters out splattering warm urine on anyone close enough to get hit and too poor to do anything about it? Who do you tattle to?

imageSomeone, at some point, thought it was a good idea to complain to the federal government, who responded by promptly by issuing surplus military hardware to any cornpone breadbox bunch of keystone cops with the space to store it. City police departments, seemingly, have gone without armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles for so long they forgot how much they needed them. That’s sort of like me tattling on the bully, only to come to school the next day and find him wearing a Kevlar Hall Monitor vest and a Skorpion machine pistol, with the principal helping him aim his little piss rocket towards the smaller children.

Sort of…you get the point…at least if you’ve lived somewhere like Ferguson you do.

I know where you think I’m headed with this…to the mattresses no doubt. The clinical sociopath is about to suggest we start locking and loading on the Big Blue Dick, that the two cops shot in Ferguson, the other two in Los Angeles, that it’s been a long time coming and the poor should rise up against the oppressive white devil swinery… That sort of shit, right?

Sorry to disappoint, but that just ain’t the case. Not that I’m against fair play, mind you. On the contrary, I vehemently disagree with peaceful protesting, turning the other cheek, all that worthless crap, especially when the other side is squirting tear gas into a crowd of the same people who pay their salaries. But, I’d be encouraging people like Eric Garner or the two Columbine boys, and that doesn’t solve anything. My solution, simply put, is easier, and lies in the future generations.

In the same ways our children have learned to trust those with power to protect their rights, they can relearn to trust themselves. We can teach our children that, as the larger social collective, they hold the true power to redefine our culture. They can learn that the things we protect and hold dear, the materialistic trappings we are so afraid to lose, mean nothing when you’re being beaten or raped or murdered…mean nothing when your brother or neighbor is experiencing the same. Through our children, we can reestablish our social identity as one which simply will not tolerate a bully culture, much less pay its salary.

Indeed. The answer doesn’t involve conferences and legislation anymore than it does Molotov cocktails and lynchings of murderous asshole police. The place to fix bully problems is in the third grade, on the level plane of boy’s bathroom floor tiles, with a dad-taught right cross and a punishing series of left jabs, all empowered by a fundamental understanding that not being suspended for fighting is infinitely less important than not being urinated on.

Tommy got out of his cage again. It’s a son of a bitch to get him back behind closed doors, otherwise, I’d have written sooner.

You can hardly blame him, I suppose. Twelve years, after all, is a very long time to lock such a wild creature away, but sadly, it’s just not long enough. The truth is, Tommy can never be free. The rest of us wouldn’t be safe, plain and simple.

Tommy and I first met back in 2000, far away from home. I’d seen him around, a lot. Every place I was stationed, there he was. On each deployment, he found his way into the muster report. And when I went drinking with my boys, he was always at the bar, right in the thick of it all, the Great Instigator of Chaos. As often as we were together, I didn’t really know him that well in those days. Fact is, I never even knew his name, not until he tracked me down anyway.

When I left the service, it had been because of him. And in spite of him. Tommy was old school soldier…true a Von Clausewitz disciple. “To introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity,” was one of his favorite quotes. It made sense, coming from the guy who actually seemed to find some sort of savage peace in the smell of people who’d been burned to death with incendiaries or, for lack of a better implement, napalm. Tommy loved the smell of that too, especially in the morning. Personally, I’ve never caught the scent of victory in the stuff, only raw petroleum and burnt skin. But it’s amazing what a man can get used to, especially around that guy.

Tommy knew me better than I knew myself, at least it seemed. He knew how to draw on the hate and anger inside, how to focus it into hostility, how to create chaos. In those days he brought out the worst in me and it was really too late, when I finally broke from him, because, by that time, I had become him. As my enlistment wound down, I’d grown downright dangerous to be around, and the brass was as relieved to see me go as I was to be leaving.

Mostly, I just wanted to be away from Tommy. The word most closely resembling the way he made me feel about myself is…Fear. From that feeling, I ran hard and fast, cutting a wide swathe across the southeastern United States, stopping only to refuel and reinforce the identity Tommy had imposed upon me. My journey was a haze, mostly, drenched in alcohol and brutality, a half dead and rabid pursuit of a sunset I couldn’t quite seem to catch.

It was on the night I gave up, turned right, headed north toward the wee hours of the morning, it was that night when Tommy finally caught up with me. It was pushing towards dawn, in a diner, somewhere just east of the Rockies, when a girl, a regular patron with sandy hair and a pretty smile, approached my quiet corner and asked my name.

“Tommy,” I answered without thinking, raising my eyes to make friends.

The name was random. It was the first time in a month I’d been asked, honestly, and given the fact that I was running low on cash, providing false information to potential witnesses would serve, at the least, to confuse anyone investigating anything I might end up doing.

Anything Tommy ended up doing.

In reality, it wasn’t so much the assumption of an alias as it was a christening of the part of me that really defines who I am. Deep down, in the darkest recesses of my little black heart, I know that Tommy is me. And that I am Tommy. And that it’s always been way. It’s Jason, as a matter of fact, who is really the impostor. Jason is the mask that Tommy wears out into the world. He’s a series of learned and socially acceptable behaviors. He’s the cage that Tommy lives inside.

A few weeks back, Tommy got out of his cage. And he tried to go to war.

“War is merely a continuation of politics, albeit through other means,” said Von Clausewitz. Tommy skips the politics. He’s not a talker or a manipulator and couldn’t give two shits about a treaty. He doesn’t bring logic and sensibility to the table. Tommy shows up with the box of matches. The matches and the gasoline.

The truth is, I let him out on purpose…because I needed him.

Tommy is the essence of the survival mechanism…he’s a living, breathing fight response…a last resort. When I can’t solve the problem any other way, when I can’t escape it or fix it conventionally, when I simply need it destroyed or subjugated, Tommy’s the one who handles that type of shit.

My new wife met Tommy while he was free. It wasn’t like introducing her to an old friend that I hadn’t seen since the hectic days of my youth. There wasn’t a warm reception or an embrace of a man long lost to the confines of civility. That day, he was just there, not on the porch, at the door, but inside. Inside our home. Inside of me…like an furious animal backed into a corner…lost, angst ridden and aggressive.

For the first time in over a decade, I felt like myself, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Neither could Penny. Tommy scared her, I think. Hell, he scares me, and he is me.

Tommy would never harm Penny, not directly at least. I’d actually set him free to protect her, to do a job that Jason just couldn’t do. The trouble with him is that he takes over completely. He just can’t function properly within the constraints of the mask. Tommy understands only war, ungoverned by convention or absurd moderation, unhindered by any real or constructed element of conscience. And he commits fully with a level of effectiveness that’s hard to argue with and even harder to turn off.

All he really wants is to feel normal. Behind the facade lies coiled a creature trapped between two worlds. Tommy understands only conflict and his very presence threatens peaceful existence. In these moments of stress and contention, Tommy finds the closest thing to peace he will ever experience. When the shit hits the fan, in other words, he’s on both sides of it, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Sometimes I wish the world had a place where Tommy could be himself…where he could live out his days, what very few he could have, and feel normal in his own skin. The cost of this is great, unfortunately, and the only acceptable tender is the blood and fear of those in his vicinity. Indeed, Tommy can only truly exist within the haze grey obscurity of violent conflict. Or in the shadow of the man he longs to be, a man not unlike myself. And in that shadow he shall remain, watching, waiting, just in case circumstance demands an element of surgical brutality fueled by the homicidal panic of a cornered mountain lion.

I still read Von Clausewitz every now and again, as well as Tsunetomo and even a little Miyamoto. To a point, it’s nostalgic, a crawl through the gutters and trenches of the past, a reminder of what once was and most importantly, what could very easily be again. Some of it is for perspective, for an understating of Tommy, because Tommy and I, we are the same. But mostly, mostly it’s because I just can’t let it go.

And that’s ok.

Just as long as Tommy doesn’t get loose long enough to do anything really bad…like running amok through downtown in a heavily armored bulldozer…or…hijacking a submarine filled with Peruvian cocaine…or even…using a can of industrial adhesive and a case of road flares to ignite a revolution in Nicaragua…as long as he’s under wraps, mostly, we’re good.

And if you think I’m telling you what he did while he was loose last time, then you’re crazy as shit. I already checked the statute of limitations. I’ll get back to you in 2022. In the meantime, the frenzy has subsided, the beast imprisoned and I’ll be getting back to blogging about bullshit no one cares about.

Thanks for reading.

The last thing that I killed was a dog. But don’t start hating me. Not yet at least.

I did have a good reason…

My good friend’s dog came home one day with half his shoulder peeled back. He’d been, as dogs do, fighting in the neighborhood and the dog he’d been fighting had proven himself a consistent threat. Unfettered, unneutered and untrained, that dog oversaw a loose conglomeration of mutts that gathered daily at the end of the street to chase cars and menace the neighborhood. Axel was the de facto leader of this group and he seemed to rule with an iron fist.

Axel had been a problem for some time. He’d nipped at and bitten children on several occasions. His owners refused to keep him at home, which was actually several miles away. And animal control? In the country, animal control doesn’t really exist and the sheriff’s department answers your complaint with a question:

“Do you have a gun?”

I took one look at the big, nasty flap of torn skin on the affable Lab with whom I play fetch on a near daily basis and understood what was coming. My friend, bless his soft Christian heart, just doesn’t have it in him to do what sometimes has to be done. He didn’t ask me to do it. I just did it. Call it love, possession, call it what you want…but if you fuck with one of the few people that I value, I can and will correct that behavior. Without remorse.

I remember pulling the trigger. Vividly. That kind of a killing happens, partially, in slow motion. The instant your finger wraps around the trigger, when it realizes true intent, time nearly freezes. Your heart beats in your ears. The constriction of your hand and index finger around the grip, the nanometer by nanometer movement of the trigger, it’s like time is crawling, presenting you with every opportunity to disengage from the permanence that’s coming. But it’s all a fraud…before you know it, the firing pin drops and the primer explodes. In a literal flash, time begins again.

Axel saw it coming. From about six feet away, he saw the muzzle flash and a full load of 00 Buck headed his way. I’d say that was all he saw but I seriously doubt he felt anything. 00 Buckshot is the equivalent, if you don’t know, of eight .380 handgun slugs being fired at you. Simultaneously. Axel never had a chance to feel anything.

Neither did I, for that matter. I think that’s what always really bothers me afterwards. Most people describe sensations of guilt or remorse after committing such a deed. Some people probably experience fear. A considerable number, likely more than we’d prefer to admit, feel some form of elation and a few, a small chosen few, have mind bending orgasms when they pull a trigger. Me, I experience more stimulation when I pull the mailbox door open.

It took ten seconds to toss the dead animal onto a piece of plastic in the back of my truck and away I went. Yeah. It happens that fast. No one saw me. When I flopped the plastic wrapped Chow into the big green bin at the dump, the attendant didn’t even look up. It was a good, clean killing. No mess. No witnesses. An hour later, at breakfast, my then fiancé asked if I was ok.

She knew what happened because I tell her everything. So over eggs and coffee, I told her I was fine.

And I was.

So therein lies the problem, or at least that’s what I used to think.

It’s supposed to be hard to take a life, any life, isn’t it? I’ve always interpreted that from tv and from other people, at least. A friend refused, at the last moment, to shoot the deer he’d been stalking. “I just couldn’t do it,” he said later. Guys freeze up in close combat all the time. Soldiers admit to missing intentionally. The tv protagonist, when presented an opportunity to gun down the villain, is often shown to hesitate at the last second, or even backing out entirely. Killing…violence in general…is supposed to be fucking hard.

Not so for me. My lack of personal emotional repercussions associated with such events leaves me pretty well ambivalent with regards to the commission of the act itself. I can just do it. Without hesitation and especially any sort of unnecessary reconsideration. If you hesitate, the target has a chance to move its head and you lose your opportunity. If you back out, you don’t eat venison for dinner or someone else’s dog gets the skin peeled off his shoulder. Or your six year old is scarred for life.

These days, I think it’s all about balance. I think the whole world, human society included, operates in a sort of harmony and it needs people like me to keep it in tune. Make no mistake…I’m not a pathological killer. There is no enjoyment, no stimulation, no chemical charge. The act in itself, to me, is not rewarding. But I can do it, and then eat breakfast and take a mid morning nap afterward.

When you first discover what you are actually capable of, how far you can really go, it’s a little scary. Realizing that sort of power is something that only a fool, or a true psychopath, takes lightly and I’ve always struggled with understanding it. The ability to inflict harm and pain without remorse, or fear for that matter, just didn’t seem like it could be a good thing. I always felt like something was wrong with me.

During my military years and the chaotic adjustment period that followed, I had a weird relationship with violence. The antisocial personality shit, along with a good bit of alcohol, the steady exposure to violence, testosterone and increased opportunities to engage in it made me a ticking bomb during my early and mid twenties. I treated my ability to behave violently the same way I treated the first fast car I ever owned and that car red lined in fifth gear at 168 mph. I never found my own red line. In retrospect, I consider my experiences in the service as a series of experiments in violence, sanctioned by both society and the state. Legal wise, it was all ok.

In the time thereafter, I found it difficult to disengage and slipped into a pattern of criminal behavior. Engaging in violence had not necessarily become pleasurable, but it had become habitual. Fucking shit up was normal behavior and, all of the sudden, it wasn’t, so what had been considered normal in that world was, even in the criminal subculture with which I began to experiment, extreme. And sort of profitable. I guess.

But it didn’t last. Violence doesn’t fit well within many social constructs. It almost always attracts other, more violent behavior, the same way Axel attracted me. And for that matter, the same way I attracted two well armed gentlemen in Juarez who effectively ended my criminal career by nearly ending me.

That’s balance. And the world needs balance.

There always needs to be somebody bigger. Somebody meaner. Somebody willing to go a step further with a pair of pliers in order to make the point that it’s not ok to use pliers and other assorted hand tools on other living creatures. It keeps the rest of us honest.

What the Columbine kids did wasn’t ok, not by any means, but it gives kids who like to bully other kids something real to consider. Frame by frame.

That’s also balance. It’s fucked up. But it’s balance.

I tend to avoid violence these days. I hadn’t even thought about the Axel incident in over a year until a couple of days ago when my Christian friend randomly thanked me. Apparently, his children had said something to him about feeling safer in the neighborhood since Axel disappeared. For a moment or so, I felt like a lost puzzle piece that had fallen into place.

I still do, sort of. It’s not possible for me to ever really, truly, fit in to a social group. I can make believe or play monkey see-monkey do and I do a damn good job, but it’s all for show and ultimately, it’s all for me. So the incident with Axel, for me, was monumental.

For once, a negative behavioral trait I carry and engage naturally served as cause for my puzzle piece to truly fit in somewhere, even if it was in a dark corner. I’d like to fit in all the time, but I know that’s not really possible and I’m definitely not seeking out similar opportunities. It was nice though, if only for a moment, to feel like I actually belonged.

When I wake up in ten days, I’ll be married. First time. Last time. Only time. And I’m good with it. I’m taking a lot of flak around work for it. It’s good natured and well intended flak (at least I think it is) but it’s flak nevertheless and it’s all coming from the married guys. “You’re in your thirties. You’ve held out for so long. Why now!? Why!?” “When I was you’re age, I just wanted to eat her up. Now, I’m 61 and I wish to hell I had.” And of course my favorite: “Say goodbye to your sex life…it won’t come home with you after the honeymoon!” Maybe they know something I don’t. What I do know is that the clock is tick tick ticking and I have yet to write my vows. It’s not for lack of trying, that’s for sure. I sit down…I start…and nothing comes. Do you remember “Mini Thins?” They were OTC diet pills sold at gas stations in the 90s – legal speed, basically. When you ate too many, you could feel your hair grow. Seriously. They also made you feel like you really had to pee but when you’d lock and load on the nearest tree, nothing happened. It’s like that. There are no words spewing towards the screen at full force, hitting and splattering everywhere, pooling into a puddle of sheer marital perfection. Nope. Not even a trickle. Hell, I’d settle for a leaked drop in the old skivvies after giving up and putting everything away but, alas, it ain’t happening. I guess I don’t really know what to say. Or what I’m supposed to say rather. I’ve only, after all, seen three weddings. One was last week. The preacher spoke all the vows and if I know anything for sure, it’s that Adam and Eve have nothing to do with marriage vows and if I mention anything about anyone having to obey anyone, the deal will be off. The other two were in American Wedding and Bridesmaids, respectively. Something tells me I shouldn’t consider the Jason Biggs character as a role model, of any sort, that I’d be better off finding a Mad Libs Wedding Vow edition. To be completely truthful, some part of my brain, at least for a second, actually gave serious consideration to the Mad Lib plan. Maybe I’ll file it under Plan C, the obvious path to take when Plans A and B either fail dismally or never get made to begin with. It’s not looking good for me. I even looked up the definition of vow. I’m that guy. From what I discovered, I’m either making a solemn promise or giving myself up to some dreadfully repressive sort of religious monkery. Depending on a particular persons perspective, like the guys at work, it could be both. I suspect, however, that I should refrain from shaving my head bald, chanting, abstaining from sex and showing up at public events barefoot and bathrobed. And intentionally setting myself on fire. At least until after the wedding…and definitely not during. It does make sense that the wedding vow is a promise that one person makes to another, or rather, a set of promises that two people make to each other. That was basically what the preacher said except he wrote the promises himself and my two friends simply agreed to them. That seems entirely irrational to me. Considering that wedding vows are, for the most part, a binding legal contract that you only get one shot at and that there are no established provisions for negotiation of terms, I think I damn well better write my own. God only knows what a preacher might sign me up for. Maybe it should read like a disclaimer or a warning label on a pack of cigarettes. After all, I’m supposed to lack the mental capacity to experience things like love and I am, according to some people, devoid of any sort of conscience and capable of nearly anything. All this could be true, but I just wish I was as capable of composing wedding vows as I am of being a colossal prick whenever I choose to be such. I could just make some shit up. I excel at that, at least. Instead of creating something real, I could just create something touching that makes everyone cry. I could probably even cry myself. But, that simply won’t do, even someone as disconnected as I am can understand that. Following the definition of “solemn promise,” it seems that vows need to be composed in a way that communicates one persons feelings toward and devotion to another person. And they need to be honest…not just an honesty that feels right at the moment, but one that I am, ultimately, capable of living up to. Holy smoking gorilla shit Batman, I think I’ve just had one of those epiphanies. From what I can make out, wedding vows exist as a pledge to maintain and continue a specified set of behavioral patterns – consistently throughout the marriage. So, like I said, they need to be based upon expectations that I have the capacity realize in my life. So here goes… I promise: to be both supportive and faithful to engage you with honesty (except when I know I’m not supposed to) to protect you from harm (this includes not hurting you) to recognize and engage your needs/feelings in my decision making processes to hold you in higher regard than all others to maintain a willingness to place your needs above my own and respect your boundaries to respect your personal identity and encourage your growth as an individual to recognize the individuality of the marriage itself and nurture it’s growth to maintain a culture of emotional stability and openness/awareness and this last one is going to be the hardest: to not sneak up behind you, make a buzzing sound in your ear, jam my thumb in the crack of your butt before screaming “CARPENTER BEE” and running away, laughing like a mad man. I think that’s a good beginning. I also think it’s a high standard to set for anyone, much less a guy with a limbic system that only fires on two cylinders. Of all the married people I know, none of them are meeting my list ten out of ten. I think if they were, mutually, they wouldn’t have the problems that they tell me about and that I see. Marriage, just like any relationship I expect, needs more than just love or affection in order to be successful. It needs a code and the code needs to be followed. This is where wedding vows come in and why it’s so important, at least in my case, to create and take ownership of the guidelines of how I will interact with my wife for, well, forever. It’s a big deal, for me. As for her, all these things come naturally; she doesn’t need two stone tablets filled with little rules to keep her honest and upright. Things like that are usually only needed by early child sacrificing Hebrews and sociopaths. Me…I need that shit. Or rather, she needs this from me, the same way the rest of the world needs me to follow the “no violence rule.” I’ve been violence-free for going on 12 years now, by the way. A man, especially a man such as myself, has got to have a code.

I could never help but get a little nervous whenever it came time for the professor to hand back a paper with a grade on it. Especially a big paper. Everybody gets nervous about that, right?

I suppose so. Sometimes the difference between an A and a B on a paper can make a big difference in an overall grade which could, potentially, affect something like a scholarship. My grade time anxiety has always been a little different. For me, it’s the difference between an A and being kicked out of the class. They kick you out, after all, for cheating.

Indeed.

Now I don’t claim to be morally ambiguous with regards to dishonest academic practices, not even a little bit. Ambiguity would apply my acceptance of a behavior as fundamentally wrong and my willingness to disregard this fact. On the contrary, I consider cheating on college papers to be, from a moral standpoint, completely acceptable.

I live in the south, and down here most people use the Bible, especially the Ten Commandments, as the moral baseline. Like it or not, this is the system of rules and order I have to appear to conform to in order to relate socially. So to me, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” really only applies to one type of lying and requires the intent of harm against another. What that means is the Jesus probably won’t be angry with me and I won’t have to pay extra come Sunday. Cheating at school is simply not addressed in this system of morals. In fact, I’d venture to say that plagiarism might not have been a prime concern for God, Moses or whoever’s bush they set on fire.

Legal ordinances make no mention, that I know of, regarding the paying of poor, adjunct college professors to write your papers for you. I’ve never heard of anyone being ticketed or jailed for sitting in the back of the room and simply looking up test answers on a smartphone either.

Come to think of it, the only rule books that say anything about cheating whatsoever are the ones written by the schools themselves. I don’t know about you, but my personal of system of morality is not defined by any college or school of any sort, especially when the definition really only guards the perceived value of the process they call education. That’s just plain retarded. That also means that cheating, to me at least, is a morally acceptable behavior.

In other words, it’s not wrong to do it. You just don’t want to get caught. And I never have.

Once, for a sociology course, I wrote a research paper about the prevalence of white collar crime and the differentials in sentencing of white collar criminals as opposed to blue collar. It was the last paper returned and the professor took a close look at it before he called my name. I got nervous that day for sure.

I was picking up my paper in class at least, and not in the privacy of his office. That was a good sign. He scrunched up his beard, however, and seemed to glare at me as I approached him. I figured I’d given him good reason to glare. That paper, after all, was nine pages of total bullshit. It was a well worded and finely crafted work of fiction I’d produced in two or three hours with little to no actual research.

I started out to write a decent paper, I really did. But when I discovered that information related to my topic was not readily available, I had to change my plan.

So I used the fact that information was limited as a point in my discussion.

And I made up a source.

Or two.

And I manipulated the statistics. All of them.

I even made up a quote entirely and attributed it to the director of the F.B.I. Ok, I admit it, I did bear a little false witness on that one. It was a really good paper.

There were minor errors in my bibliography. I had, in fact, intentionally used an older format. (Don’t encourage them to look for mistakes. Give them something easy and understandable to fault you on.)

When I reached out to take my project, his scowl disappeared and he told me that I had written an excellent paper. I’m pretty sure my jaw didn’t hit the floor, at least not until he asked if I intended to enroll in grad school. He also gave me an A and although no points were taken, his notes on my bibliography indicated that I needed to update my practices in the future.

I think a lot of people, after experiencing that sort of victory, might tend to lose respect for that professor, especially after watching him devour such a load of hooey. Admittedly, some part of me wanted to feel like that. But the reality is, the bullshit he swallowed was an artfully crafted pile of the such, carefully tailored to a one man audience.

The same way a hunter understands the feeding and mating habits of his prey, I made myself aware of his course load, his salary, his politics, anything I could easily gather just by standing around and listening. Watching. Paying attention and interpreting.

I am after all, a highly functioning sociopath. I study people.

My paper reflected a liberal political leaning and took the stance I felt he was most likely to agree with. This predisposition of agreement primed potential acceptance of further documentation with limited scrutiny. This, combined with a pile of other dreadful research papers he’d certainly be reading, substantially decreased the chances he’d ever bother checking any of my sources. I felt it was even likely I could make up a source entirely in that situation.

So I did.

There was not and never will be a reason not to respect that professor. He seemed to be, overall, quite competent, especially when engaged on a level playing field. We were playing, however, on my field and he didn’t realize it.

Like a deer in a spot light, he’d been hypnotized by the nine page spoonful that amounted, essentially, to a piece of propaganda, and perfectly intelligent people fall for shit like that all the time.

Good propaganda isn’t effective because the writer outsmarts or outthinks the reader. It just doesn’t work that way. Propaganda is actually an exchange between two parties that simply functions to affect an agreement between them. The idea is to agree with the reader, initially, and then covertly alter the terms of the agreement. The alteration occurs by using what the English Comp textbooks refer to as “appeals.”

The textbooks, of course, typically frown upon use of such techniques, favoring those which rely on honest research, logic and documentation. Propaganda utilizes all of these elements, both the favored and non-favored methods, to create a discourse that ultimately alters the readers perception of reality.

My sociology paper, to be honest, was only partly propaganda. I had no real goal with regards to the professor’s interpretation of my words. I wasn’t trying to change how he felt about the preferential sentencing of convicted white collar offenders. I could have convinced him, I think, that lighter sentences for white collar crooks are a good thing, but he’d certainly have scrutinized my work more closely and a made up bit of information might pique just enough curiosity to uncover its true nature.

Make no mistake, my goal was to change how he felt about taking his fancy little pen and scribbling an A on a big steaming pile of brain doo doo. I just used the issue of white collar crime to do it. That paper painted a picture that the professor was comfortable with and that bore a remarkable resemblance to an intelligent, well thought out piece of work. It agreed with his personal politics and appeared, on the surface at least, to function within the academic boundaries with which he was familiar. The fraudulent parts of the work were carefully camouflaged and provided him with an opportunity to simply believe something he wanted to believe.

The idea of an argumentative research paper is to convince the reader to agree with the writer. Such is it with all forms of propaganda. With research papers, it’s much easier to find a point of view that the reader already agrees with and work from there. More smiling and nodding from the reader equates to less scrutinization and the establishment of a discourse based upon agreement and, most importantly, belief.

A pattern of belief is established using the same premise of the old ice breaking Three Truths and a Lie game. The idea, in this game, is to hide the lie in amongst the facts, making them either appear to be equal or choosing far fetched truths to lure the opponent away from the bullshit. When playing the game, both players have knowledge of the rules. With a research paper, the reader, unless tipped off in some way, does not realize they are participating in the game. This places the writer at a serious advantage, provided the camouflage is adequate and employed effectively.

I know what you’re thinking…if someone is smart enough to understand and apply all this psychological technology, then why not just write the paper the way it’s supposed to be…why not just write an honest research paper? That’s an easy one. I’d have had an entire weekend, at least, in researching, organizing and composing an A research paper. Using my method, I spent about a half an hour reading and researching online. I thought about the plan for about a day and then sat down and wrote a final draft in a couple of hours.

The choice between giving up a couple of hours and losing an entire weekend is no choice at all, especially when the likelihood is high that the outcome will be the same.

No doubt about it, this manner of cheating isn’t for everyone. It takes forethought and some manner of an understanding as to what makes different individuals tick. It also takes the ability to write a good, solid composition to begin with. In other words, if you can’t write a good honest paper, you can’t write a good dishonest one. You’re better off getting some help or simply ripping off someone else. Personally, I am no plagiarist.

Never in my cheating career have I passed off another’s work as my own. I do consider myself above plagiarism, in a way, but not engaging in it makes practical sense as well. Educators, the way I see it, are experts at reading student work. It’s what they do for a living and they practice every day. It’s not difficult for a professor to read several pieces of a student’s writing and easily distinguish which one was purchased on the internet or stolen from an online journal.

I do know an excellent plagiarist, actually. The reason it works for him is that he is consistent in his practices. I don’t think he ever turns in his own words. This way there is no real baseline from which to draw comparisons. He camouflages the differences in writing styles by paying an editor, such as myself, to render his stolen compositions the same.

This involves creating patterns of grammatical consistencies, particularly with regards to errors, which are easily noticed and will suggest to the reader that the same person probably wrote them all. I also altered his “work” in other ways, such as adjusting the language to align with his localized dialect. It wasn’t nearly as much work as it sounds like, but as with my method, it requires planning and savvy regarding the relationship between the reader and the writer.

This guy, he already had a Master’s degree. He was working towards a certification he needed to work as a high school principal. Ever wonder how a guy who can’t spell “elephant” got hired as a principal? I don’t. I helped him do it.

He’s actually a decent principal, which doesn’t surprise me. Most professions rely on experience and aptitude and formalized education often does little with regards to true preparation for any sort of career. I realize this statement is arguable and I am, of course, speaking generally when I suggest that education is not often worth the value we place upon it.

This is not to say that education does not offer benefits. The process of education imparts a lot of different ideas and greatly increases the range of perspectives through which the student will ultimately engage not only their profession but also their greater overall existence. This being said, I think exams and research projects are, for the most part, entirely pointless.

Exams teach us to regurgitate what someone else deems to be pertinent knowledge. What is pertinent knowledge to an individual is subjective and based entirely upon that individual’s reality. Exams exist solely as a tool of measurement and are supposed to reflect learning. There is no way to determine, in a period of time as short as a semester, whether or not a student has understood and generalized the information presented simply by expecting them to recite a preprogrammed response to a question. Exams measure little more than short term retention skills and an ability to play the “education game.”

Research papers aren’t much better. I’ll admit I’ve learned from some of the assignments I’ve completed and I have done honest work. In many cases, however, I think these assignments are inappropriately utilized and amount to little more than busy work.

For example, engaging in the process of gathering, interpreting and utilizing sets of related data when completing a research project for a Statistics course is fundamental to understanding how statistics actually function in the real world. The project creates a macro-perspective with regards to the field of study. The Sociology project did not. Narrowing down an entire field of study to the microcosm of white collar crime and assigning 27 students the same topic didn’t make much sense. So far as the study of sociological concepts are concerned, I learned more from bullshitting a project on white collar crime than I did actually researching it.

Isn’t it amazing how effectively I am able to rationalize my antisocial behavior? It’s not so much an effective rationalization as it is a different perspective from which to engage interactions with others and especially with institutions. With most established systems, I detect substantial evidence of practices and tactics which are all too familiar to me. I prefer, simply because I am competent to do so, to engage such institutions on what I feel to be a more level field. Sometimes, like with the white collar crime project, I even net a free weekend in the sun from the deal.

Weekends in the sun are what life is all about, not writing research papers.

Even I know that.

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